Easter is right around the corner and the Easter Bunny is set to crawl out of his dank and musty warren to deliver colored eggs and candy to all the good little boys and girls. The Easter Bunny begin his reign in Germany, where it was mentioned in writings dating back to the 1500s. It originated with the pagan festival of Eastre for the goddess Eastre, who was worshiped by Anglo-Saxons through her earthy symbol, the rabbit. The goddess Eastre was the goddess of Spring and the Dawn, and also (by default) fertility.
One story tells of Eastre arriving late on winter to begin Spring, and in doing so she came across a bird who lay dying because its wings had been frozen. She nursed the bird back to health but sadly the bird could not fly again. To help the bird survive predators, Eastre turned the bird into a rabbit. Honoring the past life of the bird, Eastre also gave the rabbit the ability to lay eggs every color of the rainbow. Over time the rabbit fell out of favor to Eastre and as punishment she cast him into the sky and landed at the feet of the constellation Orion the hunter. The rabbit is still there today and is known as the constellation Lepus. Once a year Eastre allows the rabbit to return to Earth and deliver his multi-colored eggs to the children celebrating the goddess Eastre during the festival of Eastre.
So in honor of the bird that got turned into a rabbit that got turned into a constellation, I bring you The 5 Best Rabbits In Comics…..
Happy Easter…Happy Spring….Happy Eastre
1. Jaxxon (Star Wars)
Oh, I’ll go there. And I’ll go there with number one on this list. Unlike a lot of people who use hindsight to scrub their Star Wars past, I embrace it. I still love Ewoks, I think Return of the Jedi is one of the best films ever made, and I’m a fan of Jaxxon.
During a time in Star Wars’ past we didn’t have anything but the movies (which we only could see in theaters), the toys, and the comic books by Marvel Comics. With the films having multiple years between them, Marvel Comics tried to bridge the gap with their comic series that ran from 1977 to 1987. Sadly Marvel was told not to go too crazy with story lines or character development because only Lucas had total control of his universe. Painted into a corner, Marvel did the only thing that they could do, make new characters and new story lines.
One of these new characters was Jaxxon, a Lepi smuggler/mercenary who teamed up with Han Solo for a short time in issues 8 through 10. Created by comic legends Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin, Jaxxon was the duos ode to Bugs Bunny and the Warner Bros. cartoons they grew up with. Jaxxon was one of the first characters created for the expanded universe and the story line he appeared in was an homage to the famous movie Seven Samurai. After this story arc ran its course Archie Goodwin took control of the comic and Jaxxon was slowly phased out, by issue 16 he was gone for good. It wasn’t until many decades later that he would pop up again with the help of Pablo Hidalgo in Star Wars Gamer issue 4. In the issue they discus the Lepi race and flesh out a backstory for Jaxxon. Since then Jaxxon has been either handled with care or with malice, it all depended on who was doing the writing.
2. Max (Sam & Max)
This psychotic rabbit made his debut in 1987 in the comic series Sam and Max: Freelance Police by Steve Purcell. Sam and Max were an underground hit but it wasn’t until Purcell became employed by LucasArts as an artist and game designer in 1988 that lead to the first Sam and Max video game in 1993, and in turn more exposer for the crime fighting duo. The game is still applauded for being damn near perfect, and I agree. I had countless hours playing through this “graphic story telling game”, and I might add it was the first and only time I used a 900 number hint line. Around LucasArts Sam and Max were well known as they became the poster children for the animators and for all of LucasArts’ literature but by 1997 the world was introduced to these wacky freelance policemen with a Saturday morning cartoon. Since then they have appeared in more games and have maintained a cult following.
What is there not to love about Max? Whether he’s wielding a chainsaw or a baseball bat, he is the loose cannon character we all wish we could be from time to time. At times he is downright bonkers but he always embodies a very “cartoon” sense of whimsy and tomfoolery that makes him endearing. Max is the personification of pure id and acts on impulse with little regard for his wellbeing. He also comes in handy as a club or pair of wire cutters…
To be 100% honest, Max doesn’t even consider himself a rabbit – he likes to be called a lagomorph (which is the term used for members of the rabbit and hare family). Either way this unhinged, uninhibited and near psychotic lover of violence will always be a bunny in my book.
3. Bucky O’Hare (Continuity Comics)
Created by comic writer Larry Hama and artist Michael Golden in the late ’70s, Bucky O’Hare debuted in 1984 through Neal Adam’s Continuity Comics. Though it only had a very limited run in the ’80s, Bucky O’Hare spawned a syndicated cartoon in the early ’90s which then gave way to a toy line and an Arcade/Nintendo game. Pretty cool, huh?
How odd is it to have two green alien rabbits on one list?
Bucky O’Hare and his crew live in a parallel universe known as the Aniverse. In the Aniverse a galactic war is being waged between the United Animals Federation and the sinister Toad Empire. Behind this conflict is an advanced computer known as KOMPLEX, who has brainwashed the Toad Empire into doing its evil bidding. Bucky and the crew of his space ship The Righteous Indignation are aided by a young Earth boy named Willy who is a super genius who created a portal on Earth that accidently sent him to the Aniverse. Willy eventually stays and becomes the ship’s engineer. The series abruptly ended and alluded to a second chapter. Larry Hama had it scripted and Golden did the next two issues art work but Continuity folded and the saga never went on.
Hama originally was going to do Bucky O’Hare at DC Comics while he was an editor for the company. Bucky O’Hare was going to be the first creator owned title for the company but the plans fell through when they would not draw up a contract with Hama. When he first went about creating the Aniverse and the characters, Hama envisioned them as toys first, He used what he learned about business to design easily produced toys and even included things like “peg holes” in the feet in the character designs for the comic book. In the end Hama is not happy about how everything turned out for Bucky and his crew and it’s the one title he’s done in his career that he is most proud of.
4. Captain Carrot
In a time before I was a “collector” I still was a comic book reader. My parents or grandparents were always willing to buy me comics while we were out because they wanted to instill the love of reading in me. In those days I mostly gravitated to comics that were based on movies, toys, or shows that I liked. But one comic I loved that was a parody of a show I watched called the Super Friends (i had no idea of the J.L.A. at that time) was Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew.
Captain Carrot was a “Funny Animal” book published by DC Comics. He was created by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw and made his first appearance in a mini-comic included in Teen Titans #16 in 1982. The comic took place on Earth-C which was a parallel to our work, just with anthropomorphic animals. Captain Carrot’s weal name was Roger Rodney Rabbit and he was a writer and artist for DC Comics (how meta) and worked on a comic called Just’a Lotta Animals – or J.L.A for short.
The comic ran for 20 issues with one mini-series afterwards. The comic is good clean fun and its parodies of comic characters are great. They had a follow up series in 2007 that was good but had an ending that brought me to tears. With Earth-C (or Earth-26 as it was later known) on the brink of destruction, the Zoo Crew saved as many people as they could and placed them on a ship to fly to safety. After their journey they end up on Earth-1 and when the ship’s doors open we are shown normal animals. In coming to Earth-1 they were all turned back into normal animals. More recently though the Zoo Crew were restored back to their anthropomorphic selves and saved the day again.
5. Usagi Yojimbo
Created by Stan Saki in 1984, Usagi Yojimbo is hands down one of the best comics ever created. Spanning 3 different companies, over 220 issues (collectively), and 33 years Usagi Yojimbo is one of the biggest success stories of a creator owned comic book.
Taking place during the begginig of the Edo period of Japanese history, Usagi Yojimbo tells the tale of ronin samurai, Miyamoto Usagi who is on a musha shugyō – or warriors pilgrimage after the death of his lord. Along the way Miyamoto sells his sword as a bodyguard and defends the defenseless while also uncovering pieces of his past while building a future.
What makes this comic the best is that it draws so much from Japanese history, folklore, and culture. It pays direct homage to Japanese cinema from masters like actor Toshiro Mifune, director Akira Kurosawa, and famous characters like the blind swordsman Zatoichi. All of these homages and references blend seamlessly into the story and feel organic and alive. The whole series feels alive. Saki prides himself on his crisp art and his faithfulness to the clothes, architecture, and life of feudal Japan. His writing is also simplistic yet beautiful with a masterful blending of humor, action, drama, and even horror. Oh, did I mention that Usagi Yojimbo also features monsters and creatures from Japanese culture and folklore. Perfection!
HAPPY SPRING EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!